From treading the boards in amateur dramatics to running his own Cabaret venue in the entertainment capital of the UK, leading man, Leye D Johns is proud to still be at the forefront after 25 years in showbiz.
A showman, born to entertain, the owner of the resort’s Viva this month will celebrate a quarter of a century in the resort, bringing his unique comedy and performance to audiences - and he has no intention of slowing down.
The award-winning entertainer and great friend of the late Joe Longthorne has worked alongside some of the biggest names in the variety industry, welcoming the likes of Roy Chubby Brown, Joe Pasquale, Paul Zerdin, Jonathan Antoine and Paul Merson.
It was eight years ago with business partner Martin Heywood, that they transformed the former Mecca Bingo Centre on the promenade to build their own Vegas-style entertainment business Viva.
Leye D Johns, who is originally from Barrow, says more than work, his life in showbiz has been about spreading the joy’ and the laughs to others.
He adds: “It’s not often people can say they do a job they truly enjoy, but for me the last 25 years has been all about doing what I love, performing and creating shows that really bring some Vegas-style entertainment along with a lot of laughs to Blackpool.”
As well as director he has also been the front man and host for a number of the venue’s most popular in-house shows, including the Jersey Beats and The Viva Vegas Variety Show.
He began his entertainments career in Tenerife, performing at his uncle’s cabaret bar.
It was there in Bubbles Pool Bar, he was spotted performing and asked to come back to the North West by local comedian George King to perform at one the resort’s leading venues of the time, the Alabama Showboat.
During his 15 years at the venue Leye was the host and comedian for some the venues top shows, as well as going on UK and European tours as comedy support for Joe Longthorne, entertaining hundreds of thousands of people.
And it was at the Showboat where he was introduced to Martin - later making the decision together to bring a taste of Vegas to the bright lights of Blackpool.
He says: “The industry itself has had its highs and lows but variety-style entertainment is now really growing again in popularity and my ambition for the next 25 years is to really make Viva Blackpool one of the biggest entertainment complexes in the UK, while still performing and hopefully still making people laugh!”
Viva is now recognised as one of the leading entertainments venues in the north west.
It has won six industry accolades for the shows and services they offer.
Leye himself was crowned Lancashire’s Tourism Superstar and nominated as England’s Tourism Superstar of the year.
Martin Heywood, the joint owner of Viva added: “It’s an absolutely fantastic achievement to see Leye celebrating more than 25 years in the business and he’s still as popular as ever, which is real testimony to the creativity and talent he brings to the performances here at Viva.
"It’s not just on stage where Leye has made a huge contribution, though, he’s really made Viva what it is today, leading the business, spotting and supporting young performing talent and being the creative force behind all our popular shows.”
For more information on Viva Blackpool and their current show visit www.vivablackpool.com or call the events team on 01253 297297.